As Allston-Brighton’s Sound Museum prepares to close in late February, neighborhood musicians are seeking alternative rehearsal spaces.
The Sound Museum was first established in the South End by William Desmond to provide affordable spaces for area musicians, according to the business’s website. The museum has operated out of its Allston-Brighton location for 32 years, providing musicians a place where “they can rock as hard as they want to.”
Biotech real estate investor IQHQ purchased the Sound Museum’s building at 155 North Beacon St. in 2021 for $50 million. After announcing plans to demolish the building to develop a new research complex, IQHQ offered to assist the museum’s relocation — though in the time since, plans have remained in limbo.
On Dec. 17, 2022, tenants of the Sound Museum were notified of its closure. Now, organizations have stepped in to help area musicians find alternative rehearsal spaces, and have advocated on behalf of artists facing displacement across Boston.
Artists at Humphreys Street Studios created the #ARTSTAYSHERE Coalition to support local artists and protect neighborhood arts spaces. Since then, they have expanded to helping artists across the Boston area, including Allston-Brighton musicians currently facing the closure of the Sound Museum.
Though initial plans for a relocation of the Sound Museum to West Roxbury fell through, IQHQ committed in January to donating a building at 290 North Beacon St. to Boston as a permanent rehearsal space for artists. In the interim, artists will be able to use a “swing space” in Dorchester, according to a press release from the office of Boston Mayor Michelle Wu ’07.
Ami Bennitt, a volunteer for the #ARTSTAYSHERE Coalition and an advocate for the arts, said artists across the Boston area face anxiety and difficulty amid the closure of creative spaces.
“All of the artists that we work with — whether musicians, creative small businesses, or visual artists — everyone is devastated and really upset and really anxious, ” she said.
Bennitt added that the loss of affordable art spaces has created a greater financial barrier to creation.
“What you would find if you talked with other cities is that there’s also not enough affordable artists’ workspaces,” she said.
In a Wednesday public forum hosted by the coalition, advocates gathered to discuss artist displacement, while artists from across the Boston area spoke about their local situations.
Jim Healey, a current tenant of the Sound Museum, said he is pleased the city is working to secure spaces for artists, calling Allston-Brighton the “epicenter” of the city’s music scene.
Ethan Dussault, head engineer and co-operator of New Alliance Audio, said it was “heartening” seeing people at the forum working together on the issue.
Dussault, a member of #ARTSTAYSHERE, said he is excited to be helping artists. “I’m thrilled to be a part of the coalition and assisting in any way I can to preserve and prevent arts and cultural displacement from the area.”
Local officials have indicated they will continue to work to support Boston area artists. Somerville, Boston, and Cambridge announced on Tuesday their plans to join with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council on a project to protect the area’s existing art spaces and promote the creation of new ones.
Despite the difficulties that artists expressed in the forum, Bennett highlighted the number of people working together to help the city’s artists.
“The good news is that we have a bunch of people here tonight trying to help and who are working behind the scenes,” Bennitt said.
—Staff writer Kate Delval Gonzalez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org